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HERMES defines a role model and describes standardized roles in order to ensure uniform understanding across the whole organization.


The role model distinguishes between the roles that are part of the core organization and roles that are part of the project organization. The figure below shows a minimum project organization with its roles: project sponsor, project manager, and specialist. Other roles are used as required.

Core Organization

The core organization is the organization the project sponsor and the users belong to. This is where the project is embedded. It is a legal entity which determines strategies and requirements for projects. The core organization provides the necessary resources (human, financial, and infrastructure) for the project. Examples of core organizations include the Federal Administration, cantonal or municipal administrations, associations, and private enterprises.

The core organization has three types of roles that are important in the context of a project:

  • The Executive Board:

    Steers the project portfolio from a strategic perspective, prioritizes the projects, and allocates human and financial resources to specific projects.

  • Project Management Competence Center:

    Provides the project management and the project portfolio management with methods, materials, coaching, and other services. This function is also called project management office (PMO).

  • Controlling and Compliance Bodies:

    Define requirements and review compliance from a cross-organizational perspective. This may include financial controlling, auditing, or IT controlling, architecture, as well as information security and data protection.

Depending on the core organization, the specific functions of the types of roles listed have different characteristics. HERMES therefore does not describe them further.

Project Organization

The project organization is a temporary organization closely linked to the core organization. It exists only for the period of time between the approval of a project and its conclusion.

While a project is active, its project organization is continually adapted to meet the needs of the project. As it unfolds, other partners may be added to the project organization. For example, the external provider of a particular product might only be confirmed after procurement, when it becomes part of the project organization.

The project organization consists of different roles which regulate the tasks, the authority, and the responsibilities of those involved in the project. Every role has a detailed role description.


Every role is assigned to one of three hierarchical levels: Steering, Management, or Execution:

  • Steering:

    Steers project as a whole across the organization and ensures that the project objectives are met  

  • Management:

    Creates the project foundations, manages the project and the team, closes the project

  • Execution:

    Achieves the project outcomes and implements QA measures

Every project must have a project sponsor, a project manager, and a specialist. Other roles are assigned depending on the requirements of the project.

Specialists assume several different roles, not all of which are part of the general organizational chart. HERMES describes the roles of the specialists in sufficient detail to enable them to be the basis for common understanding.

The three partners, namely the users, the developers, and the operators, are represented in the project organization. Every role is assigned to one or more partners.

Overview of Roles

The table provides an overview of the roles in the project organization. It also shows how the roles are linked to the hierarchical level and to the partners.

Hierarchical LevelRoleUserDeveloperOperator
SteeringProject SponsorX
Steering Committee MemberXXX
Quality and Risk ManagerX
ManagementProject ManagerX
Sub-Project ManagerXXX
Project SupportXX
Member of Technical Advisory CommitteeXXX
User RepresentativesX
Product OwnerX
Operations ManagerX
Business AnalystXX
Business Process OwnerX
IT ArchitectXXX
ISDS ManagerX
Test ManagerXXX

The holder of a role represents the views of his or her organization within the project.


  • User:

    The user is a person who utilizes the product or IT system to handle business processes. Users are responsible for defining requirements, and they test and decide on the acceptance of the product/the IT system in question.

  • Developer:

    The developer either develops or supplies and integrates the project/IT system. Developers are responsible for the development or the delivery and integration of the project or system in accordance with the requirements that have been set in terms of quality, time, and cost.

  • Operator:

    The operator integrates the technical solution into the operating environment, provides the operating organization, and operates the system. Operators are responsible for the provision of the operating infrastructure, the operational structure, and the operation in line with what has been agreed.

The partners involved in a project are often supported by suppliers or external service providers. The procurement of deliverables and their integration into the project are the responsibility of the organization to which the user, the developer, or the operator belongs.

Role Assignment

Every role that necessary for a project must be filled.

The roles are assigned to people based on the requirements of the project. Criteria include the experience required, the capacity needed, as well as the availability of prospective role holders. The final project organization and the role assignment are recorded in the project management plan.

In keeping with governance principles, the following must be respected in assigning the roles:

  • One person can take on several roles, provided no conflicts of interest arise
  • One role can have several holders (for example, there are usually several testers in a project)
  • The roles of the project sponsor, the project manager, and the specialist must always be filled in every project. The other roles are assigned according to the requirements of the project

Information on the requirements of selected roles is provided below.


Project Sponsor

  • The project sponsor must be located with the user
  • The project sponsor is the project's representative with regard to the executive board of the core organization and also with regard to controlling and compliance. He or she must therefore have a relatively high position in the hierarchical structure
  • The project sponsor ensures that the stakeholders who are important to the success of the project are represented in the project
  • The roles of the project sponsor and the project manager must not be held by the same person

Steering Committee

  • The project sponsor chooses the members of the steering committee
  • Organizations that are relevant to the success of a project are represented in its steering committee
  • The project sponsor determines the voting privileges of steering committee members. 

Quality and Risk Manager

  • Depending on the size of the project and the risks involved, the project sponsor appoints a person or a unit to handle its quality and risk management. This person or unit reports directly to the project sponsor
  • The organization to which the quality and risk manager belongs should be independent and should not hold any other roles in the project; it must ensure that it is independent in terms of handling this mandate


Project Manager

  • The project sponsor appoints the project manager
  • The project manager is located with the user
  • If the project manager also takes on the tasks of a specialist, the project sponsor must ensure that there is still enough capacity for him or her to handle the project management effectively

Sub-Project Manager

  • Each partner (user, developer, or operator) appoints someone who must plan and manage the work to be completed in his or her area of responsibility. This person can assume the role of a sub-project manager
  • The user's sub-project manager can also be the project manager


Business Analyst

  • In smaller projects, the business analyst can also assume the role of the project manager or the user's sub-project manager, provided he or she fits the requirement profile and has the necessary capacity


  • Each partner (user, developer, or operator) conducts testing in his or her area of responsibility

Test Manager

  • Each partner (user, developer, or operator) can appoint a test manager in his or her area of responsibility
  • The user can delegate his or her test management to one of the other project partners, however without giving up the overall responsibility for the project outcome

Role Descriptions

Explanation of Role Description

The roles describe the responsibility, the level of authority, and the skills needed by those involved in the project. They form the basis for a common understanding. Roles are assigned to tasks and outcomes.

  • Every task is assigned a role which is responsible for its execution. This role is also responsible for the outcomes.
  • Outcomes are also assigned roles. These are the roles which are involved in achieving the outcome; the list is not final, as it must be tailored to a specific project.

Every role is specified by a role description. All role descriptions have the same design:

  • Description: Creates understanding of the role
  • Responsibility: Describes the responsibility of the role
  • Authority: Describes the powers of the role
  • Skills: Describes the knowledge a person needs to have in order to fulfill the role. In describing the skills, no distinction is made between knowledge and experience, since the level of competence needed very much depends on the project
  • Relationships: Shows how the role is linked to modules, outcomes, and tasks